School Admissions and Special Educational Needs

Detailed arrangements exist to determine which school a child with a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan should attend.

The ordinary admission arrangements do not apply to these children. Instead, when a Local Authority serves a proposed statement or EHC plan on parents, it must also send a letter asking the parent to indicate the preferred school for their child.

The letter will give parents a list of schools and impose a time limit on the expression of a preference. The process will take into account any religious beliefs.

If a parent expresses a preference for a state school then that preference must be accommodated unless:

  • the school is unsuitable for the child in all of the circumstances
  • the attendance of the child would be incompatible with the efficient education of other pupils at the school

The law imposes a positive duty on local authorities to try to accommodate a child in a mainstream state school where that is the preference.

Should the preference be for an independent or non-maintained special school, the Local Authority should agree unless the provision would be much more expensive than the Authority’s choice. Any parent should be prepared to argue that the state school identified by the Authority is unable to meet their child’s particular needs.

Once a school is named in the statement or EHC plan then the governing body of any named state school must admit your child. The position is similar where the school is an academy, although the Secretary of State is able to intervene in such cases.

The decision making process in such cases is subject to the oversight of First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) or the Upper Tribunal Administrative Appeals Chamber.

For more information regarding these issues or to arrange an appointment with one of our expert lawyers please contact your nearest office here or use the form below to email us.

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